Land of Opportunity: One Family's Quest for the American Dream in the Age of Crack

William M. Adler, Author
William M. Adler, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $22 (415p) ISBN 978-0-87113-593-3
Paperback - 432 pages - 978-0-452-27683-3
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Most reporting on drug dealing ignores context--``why crack distribution is for so many a rational career choice''--declares freelance journalist Adler. In this unwieldy but sometimes compelling book, he tells the story of the four Chambers brothers, who rose from poverty in rural Arkansas to a triumphant but brief reign as Detroit drug lords. The author's narrative zig-zags between Lee County, impoverished and segregated, and Motown, suffering deindustrialization and middle-class flight in the 1980s. Still, with the cooperation of his subjects, he draws arresting scenes: Billy Joe Chambers's decision to move north; Larry Chambers's criminal grad school in prison; the frenetic barter system at the brothers' crack den; the way a Detroit TV reporter built his rep on the Chambers's story. In 1988, all the brothers got long prison terms. Though Adler succeeds in establishing that the Chambers brothers, despite their crimes, were mainstream American capitalists, he does too little to draw them as textured personalities. 25,000 first printing; author tour. (Mar.)
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